Archived News from Ubu Projex
Date shown is the date of archiving.
It's shipping now!
Although the release date to stores for Carnival of Souls is September 8/9, mail orders ship beginning August 18 from Ubutique and Fire Records. Cogs, The Making of Carnival of Souls, a 100 page paperback of 'liner notes' by David Thomas, is also now available from the same sources. The iTunes download release is available for pre-order now and doing so gets you an immediate copy of the song 'Road to Utah.'
Underscore to Carnival of Souls in Paris
The Pere Ubu Film Group (in this case, David Thomas, Keith Moliné, Gagarin and Darryl Boon) will perform a live underscore to Carnival of Souls as part of the L'Étrange Festival at Forum des Images, Paris, on Friday, September 12. This will be the original underscore that evolved into the music for the album. It will be subtitled in French. Tickets go on sale August 20. See Calendar page.
Lindsay Cooper Memorial Events
Lindsay Cooper died last year. She was a collaborator on many of the David Thomas solo projects of the mid 80s. Memorial evenings at the Barbican, London, and the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival are scheduled for November 21 and 22 2014, featuring Henry Cow, Music For Films, News From Babel and Oh Moscow. Below is a tribute Thomas wrote for the program:
Lindsay Cooper was a tough old bird. There are testimonials galore to her talent. The most significant is the body of her work. But, at a certain level of the masonic Brotherhood of the Unknown, talent is a given. 'Yeah, that was a great performance but that's what you're paid to do.' Deeper within the Order is a quality that endures and speaks to the heart. Lindsay was a tough old bird.Meet Darryl Boon
In the mid 80s, I had a trio that probably went by various names, mostly David Thomas and the Pedestrians. It was me, Lindsay and Chris Cutler. Voice, bassoon/sax, and drums. It was a surprisingly good listen, but far from conventional.
We were booked to play in Madrid two nights. It turned out to be a disco. The doors would open only after all the bars shut. The first night, we waited in a narrow 'dressing room' that was filthy beyond words. The flooring was sticky way past the point of being adhesive. Roaches and unidentifiable insects ran riot. Any time your eye rested on a spot on the wall, or floor, it moved. The smell was unique. The support was a Spanish cliche-punk band. The air compressed with every ill-timed foot drum beat. The audience had achieved a uniform post-drunkenness before we stepped on stage. We did the show, manfully enduring, manfully excelling, manfully uncompromised. It hurt bad. In the 'dressing room' afterwards someone said, "We get to do this all over again tomorrow."
The promoter swore up and down that the support band for the second night is much more "simpatico." Very simpatico. He kept saying it. We arrive as the support is finishing sound check. There are twelve of them on stage. The music is 80s Euro-pop of the worst kind. They are all made up to look like Adolph Hitler.
So, when I think of Lindsay, I remember Madrid. She was one for the trenches. You could count on her when the going got rough. Her art endured through the pain.
Chris, Lindsay and I will always have Madrid.
Darryl Boon is the newest member of the group. A clarinetist, he is an enthusiastic advocate of Dixieland. David met him while he was playing in a jazz group in a pub in Hove.
New Album Videos
A number of song videos have been produced for the new album. Released so far are:
Road to Utah
Pere Ubu Fixes Things
Self expression is evil
Q: So the album is about the movie...
A: No. The album is not about the movie. The album is 'about' a complex sensual response to living in a world overrun by monkeys and strippers who tickle your ears, cajole you to join in with their cavorting and then become vindictive when you decline. I got rid of my TV because I don't want them in my house. I got rid of my phone because I don't want them calling me. So if you understand that and add in several more keyframes and make at least two more intuitive jumps, then you can see what role the movie has as ambient background noise - in the same way that sun shining through the trees along the Yellowstone River has as a reference point to Kerouac's 'On The Road.'
Rat puppets and Pere Ubu
Recently come to light, Pere Ubu's appearance on the extremely popular BBC kids show of the 80s hosted by a rat puppet. The fellow who was Roland The Rat was a big Pere Ubu fan and insisted that they be invited to play the show. The band was in Athens on the Saturday, flew into London on the Sunday to tape the show, and then flew back to Athens that day to do a second show. This was the Greasy Chicken Incident that had David checking into the hotel at 3am with a very large, leaking cardboard box filled with fried chickens. He left his shoes on the reception counter when the band went to the roof to consume said chicken and watch the sun rise over the Parthenon.
But, not just one rat puppet host. Here is a David Thomas appearance on a Chicago cable tv kids show.
Ubu Sings Ubu, April 9-26
The press release:
Actor/director Tony Torn and Julie Atlas Muz star in Ubu Sings Ubu, an immersive theatrical mash up of Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi and the songs of experimental cult band Pere Ubu. Adapted from a version of the original French text, and run through the Google Translate™ engine, Torn and company are fueled by the giddy, angular new wave rock of Pere Ubu, the cult band whose name and style were inspired by the play. Torn, who co-directs with Dan Safer of Witness Relocation, plays Pere Ubu while Muz is Mere Ubu, in a bizarre parody of Shakespeare's Macbeth, set in Poland instead of Scotland.
"I first fell in love with the band Pere Ubu in high school, when my brother Jon brought the song 'The Modern Dance' over to our friend Daniel Pinchbeck's house and we threw it on the turntable," says Torn. "The music led me to the insanely scatological play Ubu Roi, and from thence into a career in experimental theater. I first thought of doing a production like this over thirty years ago. And now it's time to put up or shut up."
Torn's adaptation process is as irreverent as Jarry's text. "Jarry's script is a scatological school boy prank," Torn explains. "He wrote the play to make fun of his high school physics teacher. The stupidity of Google Translate™ matches the intentional stupidity of the play - which is super exciting to me." In adapting the sprawling original text for a more intimate production, Torn (in collaboration with co-director Safer and poet Nicole Peyrafitte, who earned the unique title of "Merdreturge" for her work) feels he has discovered something hidden inside the famously scatological epic. "It's a love story - a disturbing and outlandish one, but very real."
Location: Abrons Art Center: 466 Grand Street (at Pitt Street) New York, NY
Interviewer: Why was there no bass player for the 'Visions of the Moon' tour in Italy & the UK?
DT: Circumstances forced a range of scenarios. At the same time I became obsessed with the new material we had been developing since July following the 'Carnival of Souls' performance. The LFS project, as I have noted elsewhere, was the culmination of a 20 year project designed to integrate improvisation into the compositional process in a particular way. The new material suggested the beginning of a new long-term project and I was anxious to get on with it rather than repeat LFS in the UK and Italy. This suggested a 'shock troops' orientation for the Pere Ubu line-up since much of the performance would be improvised from night to night as ideas were explored. Having both a drummer and a bass player in the band would constrain the process. Bass players and drummers have a foolish notion that they should play together and it's hard to shake them from their convictions. I went with a drummer - Michele had not been involved with the 'Carnival of Souls' because of scheduling conflicts but Steve had. We are now working on bringing in Michele in a particular way reminiscent of the Chinese Whispers method.
Utah Living Room Concert
David Thomas will give a Living Room Concert on December 10th in Farmington, Utah, near Salt Lake City.
WE HATE DAYS OFF, part 2
The last 'We Hate Days Off' appeal resulted in a very special evening in Troyes, France. We are now offering another Pere Ubu Living Room Concert opportunity Dec 15/16 for locations south of Portland and north of San Francisco. Imagine the possibilities - David Thomas himself rummaging thru your frigerator. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
West Coast Tour
Dates for the West Coast tour of Lady From Shanghai have been announced on the Calendar page.
Update 8/21/13: Visa Rejected
Ubu Projex, the art and business directorate of the American band Pere Ubu, can confirm that notice has been received this weekend from the United States Customs & Immigration Service (USCIS) rejecting the visa petition for British band members Keith Moliné and Graham Dowdall (aka Gagarin).
The sole grounds for rejection is the band's refusal to seek approval from the American Federation of Musicians (AFM).
"The AFM are the antagonists in this affair," band leader David Thomas said. "They have no business telling me who can and who cannot be in the band."
Details can be found in previous press releases, www.ubuprojex.com/press/ubuvisa.pdf.
Cleveland guitarist Dave Cintron will join the band for the September US tour and provisions are in place for Moliné and Dowdall to link remotely for one of the songs in the set.
There has been much disbelief and incredulity about this not-uncommon example of the obstacles international bands now face when seeking to tour the US.
"The whole process has been going on since May, with several delays and absurd complexities," Thomas said. "The Cintron version will be magnificent, I have no doubt. If I cannot put a band together without government interference and without a pat on the head from the AFM, like a grateful dog, then so be it. I have no interest in frittering my life away with campaigning.
"We will proceed with our music. Nothing will be announced from the stage. We won't be writing 'protest' songs or haranguing audiences.
"There are visions and ideas to pursue. There's too little time to waste it on fighting stupidity. In the words of the MGM lion, Ars longa, vita brevis." [Yes, we know it was Hippocrates]
We Fought the Faceless Government Clerk
and the Faceless Government Clerk Lost
Following on from press release dated 8/11/13, Pere Ubu announce revised line-up and revolutionary remote performance from the two British group members.
Pere Ubu has added Cleveland guitar maestro Dave Cintron to the lineup for its September tour of the eastern USA and Canada. Mr. Cintron substitutes for British guitarist Keith Moliné, who is unable to enter the US due to the visa approval process delays, ongoing since May. The group's second synthesizer, Gagarin, is also unable to join the band on tour, but plans are in progress to produce a remote performance live from their homes in London, by way of a complex cell/broadband system.
Band leader David Thomas says that the show will be different to the UK and Europe tours but it will still be Pere Ubu and the audience will be witness to the morph that is part of this band's unique history. "Mr. Cintron brings a unique perspective to the songs and we will subsume that into the collective. Pere Ubu is The Borg."
The improvisational nature of both the band's composition process and its performances means that all the songs in the set will have to be rewritten and relearned, particularly those from new album Lady From Shanghai (Fire Records).
"We will do what others call impossible," Thomas says. "The songs from the new album are anti-logical, played in nonsensical structures and with inscrutable tunings. None of it can be written out or translated. We will devise new patterns of anti-logic.
"The remote performance will only be for one song but it's a victory nonetheless," Thomas said. "For a month I've been in my studio working on this project. Everyone says it can't be done... Oh well."
Gagarin was to play his own material as a support act in many of the tour's cities. Instead, Mr. Thomas will take to the stage and manage a remote performance of the music. Other members of Pere Ubu will contribute and Mr. Thomas promises to dance.
"Moral victories? We got a million of 'em," Thomas said. "And lots of Pyrrhic ones!"
Many fans are angered by what they see as an attack on freedom of expression. "With all due respect, it's nothing as grand as that," Thomas said. "Big organizations are comfortable with hierarchical methods of production, but the cultural history of the last hundred years is marked by the emergence and then dominance of a more chaotic folk methodology found in jazz, rock, blues and country music - music of the 'people.'
"The visa restrictions are the product of a mind set relevant to the 20s, when the hierarchical paradigm seemed to be the only game in town: orchestras, big bands, show bands, Tin Pan Alley, etc. Thomas Edison's invention of the phonograph/microphone would eventually change all that.
"Lawmakers, in response to the paradigm shift, have been encouraged to codify 'artistic merit' as a visa requirement. That's when you get a real mess - faceless government clerks ticking boxes.
Pere Ubu at Camber Sands
Ask not what Pere Ubu can do for you
Bring Me The Head Chamber Version
Living Room Concert in Norway
National Public Radio (NPR) is currently premiering a track from the upcoming Pere Ubu album Lady From Shanghai. It can be played online.
A book about Kevin Coyne by Pascal Regis is posted online at http://kevincoynebook.tk/. The 2pbs did a short UK tour with him some years ago. It was a privilege and an honor. Buy everything he ever recorded and treasure it.
Download Excerpts from Book of Hieroglyphs
For a limited time a PDF of excerpts from The Book of Hieroglyphs can be downloaded. Click here.
Van Dyke Parks
"I have trod and will retread this confirming and inquiring work time and again. It's strangely home. Epic in scope. As mighty on the page as on the stage, with scat and logic, this MacDuff leads us on."
J.C. Menu, French publisher, L' Association
"This book is not a book, it's an alien."
Bob Holman, Bowery Poetry Club
"Thomas refuses to call the pieces in this book poetry, says they are not the songs. I really don't care what you call them, and it's true that they are unlike anything you've ever read before, but what they are are zings, stings, word bullets that tell stories so condensed that your mind changes on every syllable."
The Book of Hieroglyphs
The Book of Hieroglyphs by David Thomas goes on sale to readers of ubuprojex.com on Friday, June 8 in its hardback edition. The official launch is scheduled for September, when a paperback edition will also be available. The hardback is a limited edition, 268 pages with a color dust jacket.
Bob Holman (Bowery Poetry Club) reports, "I'm having the pleasure of previewing David (Pere Ubu) Thomas' book of nonpoems called The Book of Hieroglyphs. Thomas refuses to call the pieces in this book poetry, says they are not the songs. I really don't care what you call them, and it's true that they are unlike anything you've ever read before, but what they are are zings, stings, word bullets that tell stories so condensed that your mind changes on every syllable."
Allen, Robert and the EML
Allen Ravenstine and Robert Wheeler are interviewed and play the EML together in this video, Dream Of Wires, produced by Bill Blakeney. Recorded at Grant Avenue studio in Hamilton, Ontario. A must-see.
David Thomas and two pale boys appear in Brighton December 15 at Disastohouse. This is a private venue. Admission is limited to 30 people.
David in Milan (I)
David Thomas gives a spoken word performance Friday, Nov. 9, in Milan in conjunction with a showing of the film 'ZZYZX,' which features music and poetry by David Thomas. Admission is free.
Rocket From The Tombs on Tour
It's time for Americans to hear what the fuss was about during the European Tour. Rocket From The Tombs plays the Beachland Ballroom Friday, October 12. Other regional dates are confirmed in Rochester NY, Buffalo NY, Hamilton ON and Athens OH.
Book Launch Performance
David Thomas will be launching his first book, The Book of Hieroglyphs at Cafe Oto, London, on Saturday, September 15, from 3-5pm. Entry is free. The Book of Hieroglyphs is essentially a journey through America, with a blend of poetry and prose pieces that lead through the "Ghost Towns that you don't know you know." David Thomas will be presenting a selection of these, with a book signing after the performance.
Rocket From The Tombs European Tour
David Thomas was hospitalized May 5 in Brighton and spent almost a week in Intensive Care and then the High Dependency Unit with complications brought on by a severe infection. An ambulance crew had to resuscitate him for ten minutes. Craig Bell, Steve Mehlman, Gary Siperko and Buddy Akita, who had already arrived in Europe, and the band's agent, Berthold Seliger, urged Thomas to cancel the tour. Days of uncertainty followed with Thomas insistent on getting out of the hospital and on the road for at least some of the dates. The band found accommodation in Berlin and waited. The first eight shows were cancelled. Thomas was released in the afternoon of May 10. Against the advice of his doctors he rejoined the band in Paris on May 18 and performed five shows in Paris, Lyon, Nancy, Zurich, Stuttgart and Munich. The last two concerts in Treviso and Zagreb were cancelled.
The shows were exceptional and received enthusiastically. The band apologise to all fans who had tickets for the dates that had to be cancelled. Thomas is close to being fully recovered and he thanks all of the promotors and their production staffs for being so accommodating during his illness and he especially thanks the band, soundman Nadan Rojnic and Berthold Seliger for their loyalty, perseverance and patience through the chaos.
It should be noted, as well, that the server for ubuprojex.com was experiencing a breakdown during the crisis and though updates were being posted on the Calendar Page they were overwritten quickly with older out of date pages. The fault wasn't discovered until well after the tour ended and has only recently (June 8th) been corrected.
Four animations by the Brothers Quay to Pere Ubu songs that featured in Bring Me The Head of Ubu Roi will be part of an exhibition of their work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City opening in August 2012.
Rocket From The Tombs
The new album, Barfly, is scheduled for release September 13 on Fire Records and Smog Veil. The eleven new songs, produced by David Thomas at Suma, are: I Sell Soul, Birth Day, Anna, Butcherhouse 4, Romeo & Juliet, Sister Love Train, Love Train Express, Good Times Never Roll, Six And Two, Maelstrom, and Pretty. The band remains: David Thomas, Cheetah Chrome, Richard Lloyd, Craig Bell and Steve Mehlman.
Cds and the Smog Veil vinyl are now in stock at Ubutique .
The two songs released on 45rpm vinyl earlier this year, I Sell Soul / Romeo & Juliet , have been remixed for "Barfly" and "I Sell Soul" was partially re-recorded.
Videos for that single release are viewable at I Sell Soul and Romeo & Juliet .
A blog site for Rocket From The Tombs is up as well as an official Facebook page.
The Archimedes Quartet
The Archimedes Quartet is a project driven by method, mystery and miasma. Five years ago David Thomas described a bath tub epiphany to Peter Blegvad at a chance meeting outside an architectural college in Oxford. "Edison, Einstein, Eisenhower and Elvis - The Four 'E's Who Invented The 20th Century." This evolved, in the way of these sorts of conversations, into a Big Idea - a lecture / symposium slamdown to be refereed by Chris Cutler. A few emails were exchanged, words beginning with "E" were accumulated but, in the way of these things, the Big Idea withered on the vine.
Well, it's back and it's bigger than before and it's booked, Saturday, December 3 2011, at Cafe Oto, London. Only trouble is we still got no idea at all what the Big Idea will look like except it will be musical and bag lunches are advised.
That's the downside. The upside is that Blegvad and Thomas are inventive story-tellers, of the tall tale variety, very cool singers, and, in spite of a mutually shared tendency to over intellectualize, they are shameless entertainers. Egged on by the flamboyant rhythm section of Chris Cutler and John Edwards a concert of "Eureka!" moments is envisioned.
Living Room Concerts
The first three Living Room Concerts on the west coast were successful on all levels and so the series will continue. Those who have expressed interest will be contacted soon. Thanks to the hosts for enjoyable and well-organized events: Dan Carbone, Duane Capizzi and Pierre Gonzalez.
Living Room Concerts
Based on the delightful experience of Lilley Live in Copenhagen recently David Thomas is offering a new product, Living Room Concerts, wherein he gives a solo performance in... your living room. Click here for more details. Changes In RFTT Clarified
Cheetah Chrome, a founding member of the legendary Cleveland pre-punk band Rocket From The Tombs, announced his retirement in dramatic fashion recently.
"I was half way down the steps to the dressing room at the last show of the tour after our set at Maxwell's in Hoboken," singer David Thomas said. "'Wait! Wait! I have something to say,' Cheetah told us. 'This is my last show.'"
"We were all not a little bit upset," Thomas said. "Pissed-off would be a good description."
"Thinking back on it," Mr Chrome said, "My advice to others is that it's not a good time to make the announcement, just before the encore of your last show."
Mr Chrome intends to retire from the road by the year's end in order to devote more time to his family and the responsibilities of raising his young son. Not wanting to leave the band in the lurch he promised to fulfill road obligations for the year.
"I know how seriously Cheetah takes his family obligations," Mr Thomas said. "All things considered we thought it best to re-configure the band sooner rather than later."
Buddy Akita will join Rocket From The Tombs in the 'Cheetah Position.' He's a member of This Moment In Black History, considered by many to be the best Cleveland band of the last five years. He will pair with the other recent addition to the band, guitarist Gary Siperko.
"I really enjoyed playing with Gary for the short time we had," Mr Chrome said. "He's really done his homework, and I think he's going to add a lot to the band's future."
"There was alot of pressure to resolve the situation," Mr Thomas said. "I try not to do things too fast on the basis that time reveals the best solution."
The best solution came in what's called the Jim Jones Model. In the mid-90s Pere Ubu guitarist Jim Jones told Mr Thomas that the state of his health would not allow him to tour anymore and he'd have to quit the band. Don't quit, don't tour, Thomas told him. Mr Jones remained a non-touring member of Pere Ubu until his death in 2008, contributing material, recording, and occasionally appearing on stage.
"I'm happy to be able to remain in RFTT as a non touring member," Mr Chrome said. "I've never meant it to be taken as I'm retiring, I mean, writing and recording are things that you don't just quit doing, they're in my DNA. I look forward to contributing in that capacity; and I'll definitely be popping up for gigs now and again."
Update to eBook of "Bring Me The Head"
The illustrated eBook has been updated to version 9.0 with more background text, format fixes, and additional dialog from a wider range of the many iterations of the script. Those who bought version 8.1 from hearpen.com, or who bought the dropcard , have been sent free download codes for the update, as is the policy at hearpen.com. Those who bought the Kindle version need to contact Amazon for a free update.
Best of 2010
The UK's The Independent selected Pere Ubu's "The First & Last" concert (Feb 25, The Garage, London) as one of the best of 2010 .
"Pere Ubu's delivery of their first and last albums back-to-back involved one of the year's most extraordinary performances from singer David Thomas, clearly taking his title role in Ubu Roi to enraged new extremes as he vented his drunken fury on all and sundry - to the audience's evident delight."
eBook of Bring Me The Head Of Ubu Roi
Hearpen publishes its first iBook/eBook, the illustrated script to Bring Me The Head Of Ubu Roi . It's available at hearpen.com in both iBook/ePUB and PDF formats. Also available thru Amazon's Kindle server.
Jane Scott is gone
The icon of Cleveland rock music, Jane Scott, died early on July 4 2011. She was 92.
RFTT Tour Update
The tour dates are set for the first exploratory US tour. Hopefully a longer US tour will follow after the worst of the winter. A European tour is in the works for May. No plans for the UK - too much trouble, no money and little interest.
The touring band lineup is:
Gary Siperko is a Cleveland guitarist who has toured extensively throughout Europe and the US with the Progressive Instrumental Garage / Punk Trio "MOFOS," and the Cleveland based Cow-Punk band "The Whiskey Daredevils."
The tour dates are:
Dec 7 Chicago, The Empty Bottle
Dec 8 Newport KY, The Southgate House
Dec 9 Cleveland, Beachland Ballroom
Dec 10 Pittsburgh, Thunderbird Cafe
Dec 11 Philadelphia, Kungfu Necktie
Dec 12 Brooklyn, The Bell House
Dec 13 Hoboken, Maxwell's
Lady From Shanghai (Demos)
The working title for the next Pere Ubu album is "Lady From Shanghai." Three demos from the early sessions are available at hearpen.com. The initial aim for the project is to "fix" dance, as "Long Live Pere Ubu!" was conceived as a project to "fix" theater. People ask, Well, what kind of dance are you talking about: classical, ballet, pop, Broadway? The answer is, All of it. Dance encourages the body to move without permission. That's a fundamental flaw. It must be solved. These songs are somewhere between demos and works-in-progress. They are far from completed. They are at the place where the ideas are coalescing. They will continue to evolve as instruments, parts and ideas are added and fleshed out. The titles are working titles and so they may or may not change. People ask, How do you write songs? Here is a glimpse at one methodology.
Cleveland Confidential Book Tour
David Thomas is appearing in a panel discussion with Cheetah Chrome, Bob Pfeiffer and Mike Hudson at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame (April 11) and at the Grammy Museum at LA Live in Los Angeles (April 14).
The Modern Dance & More
Pere Ubu with Tom Herman playing guitar repeat last year's performance of The Modern Dance in its entirety (plus added related songs) at The Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland, on Saturday March 19.
Sisters Of Mercy
SoM have again invited David Thomas and two pale boys to support them for their Leeds hometown show on Feb. 17.
Carnival Of Souls
David Thomas and two pale boys will perform a live underscore to the 1962 cult classic film "Carnival Of Souls" at Cafe Oto, Saturday, 12 February 2011. This "world premiere" work-in-progress is by way of a scouting expedition for the Pere Ubu Film Group which has previously toured in the USA and UK with the 3D version of "It Came From Outer Space" and "X, The Man With X-Ray Eyes."
"I grew up addicted to Friday Night sci fi flicks," Pere Ubu's David Thomas said. "The genre had an incalculable effect on the third generation of Young Rock Giants who emerged in the 70s. Now it's time to honor that debt.
"The amateurish enthusiasm and naive intention, as well as lack of budget, of the B-movie encourages a kind of communal abstraction that approaches folk culture, and the frequent lack of a coherent agenda leaves lots of wiggle room for whatever personalized context or agenda an audience or band chooses to overlay. Wiggle room is good."
Time Out described David Thomas and two pale boys as, "A gloriously garrulous, diffidently divine, pumping, wheezy, melodeon-driven, contemporised avant-folk... Twisted and inspired, it is like everything and nothing you've ever heard, [they] are now creating a whole new kind of strange and affecting beauty."
Glenn Max, musical director at the Royal Festival Hall, noted of the Film Group's previous underscores, "(They) have raised the standard for live soundtracks."
Cleveland... uh, Rocks
WKYC, Channel 3, in Cleveland broadcasts "The Story Of Rock And Roll Capitol Of The World" Friday, September 3. Robert Wheeler and David Thomas were interviewed for it.
The Annotated Modern Dance
The latest hearpen.com release is The Annotated Modern Dance, a live recording of Pere Ubu, featuring Tom Herman on guitar, performing The Modern Dance in its entirety from the 10th Anniversary of the Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland OH, March 5 2010.
Robert Wheeler Makes it To The Grammies
Robert Wheeler appeared on The Grammies accepting the Technical Grammy Award for Thomas Alva Edison. Pictures can be found on Robert's Facebook page.
Raygun, Bailing and Art Redux
Cooking Vinyl released Raygun Suitcase and The Art of Walking in Director's Cut versions in the UK in March 2010 and anywhere else it distributes. Song Of The Bailing Man has also been released in the 2008 Master version. Cooking Vinyl USA issued Raygun Suitcase in The Director's Cut in 2005.
Ubu Dance Party Update
Charlie Dontsurf has updated the documents section of the only complete Ubu reference site out there, www.ubudance.com.
The Radio Play
The entirety of "Bring Me The Head Of Ubu Roi - The Radio Play" is now available at hearpen.com for download.
Robert appointed Grocery Police Officer
Recently there has been a change of policy as regards YouTube. This is due to the appointment of Robert Wheeler as Grocery Police Officer, now in charge of internet activities. He advocates a more liberal approach to uploading videos of the band, though he will continue to censor and instruct the removal of not-approved uploads. David remains opposed but acknowledges Robert's authority in this matter. For related matters email Robert.
Chris Cutler's RERMegacorp label has released a live Pere Ubu cd of tracks selected from the hearpen.com download audio releases Waltz Across Texas and Waltz By The Sea. The cd is called London Texas (ReR U01).
David Thomas in Oz
Following an appearance at the Sydney Opera House on Jan 28 in the Rogue's Gallery concert, David Thomas will appear with the backing of The Holy Soul on Jan 31 in Sydney. The work visa has been approved. See the Calendar Page.
Proposed set list with The Holy Soul: 1. 30 Seconds Over Tokyo, 2. Babylonian Warehouses, 3. Bus Called Happiness (Mirror Man/2pbs), 4. Clouds of You, 5. Final Solution, 6. Man in the Dark, 7. Modern Dance, The, 8. My Theory of Spontaneous Simultude (jam), 9. Nonalignment Pact, 10. Perfume, 11. Pushin' Too Hard, 12. Rounder, 13. Slow Walking Daddy, 14. Streetwaves, 15. Vacuum In My Head, 16. Wasteland
Others involved in the Rogues Gallery program of pirate songs at the Sydney Opera House are Marianne Faithfull, Tim Robbins, Liam Finn, Todd Rundgren, Gavin Friday, Kami Thompson and Marry Waterson.
Charlie Dontsurf freaks out...
Charlie from Ubu Dance Party, the authoritative site for Pere Ubu facts, reacts to "Long Live Père Ubu!" thusly (I'm afraid his enthusiasm has freaked out the translator program so we can't get it all):
"I cannot, I dare not listen too often to this album. I fear that it will make me crazy. It is incredible. I cannot accept it. It is stunning, quite simply a masterpiece. The sound is a pure wonder. It envelops you. It gets in your head and won't let go. Press STOP! A musical earthquake. I cry about it. I shiver about it. Long Live Père Ubu!"R. Stevie Moore
The indefatigable R. Stevie Moore has recorded his version of Non-alignment Pact which can be heard here.
"Long Live Père Ubu!"
Cooking Vinyl will release the album September 14 in the UK, Europe and elsewhere. A US release has yet to be determined. The album is studio versions of the songs from Bring Me The Head Of Ubu Roi. The album was recorded at Suma over the period of January to September 2008. David Thomas produced and the augmented version of Pere Ubu recorded it: Keith Moliné, Robert Wheeler, Michele Temple, Steve Mehlman, Sarah Jane Morris and Gagarin.
The Quay Brothers animation that accompanied "March Of Greed" for "Bring Me The Head Of Ubu Roi" can be seen online at www.revver.com. Also viewable on www.vimeo.com. (The quality is better on either of these sites than on YouTube. www.revver.com allows an easy option for download.) The animation by The Brothers Quay was projected wide-screen, and impressively large, on the back wall of the stage as Pere Ubu performed "March Of Greed" and action took place on stage. Sarah Jane Morris is the featured singer.
The podcast series of 8 episodes from Pere Ubu's ground-breaking project "Bring Me The Head Of Ubu Roi" is up and running at www.hearpen.com, the band's own audio download web site. It can be subscribed to thru iTunes.
The series of eight podcasts covers the first three acts of the six act radio play that was inspired by the songs on Pere Ubu's forthcoming Cooking Vinyl and Hearpen cd "Long Live Père Ubu!" (Release date: September 14). The idea to record a "radio play" was conceived as a way of managing the "silence" between songs in a concert set so that the spoken word is manipulated and mixed with electronic ambience and transformed into a unique musical style of its own. The script for the radio play, adapted by David Thomas from Alfred Jarry's "Ubu Roi" (King Ubu), is Version 2 of a theatrical production also called "Bring Me The Head Of Ubu Roi" that premiered in its original version at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, April 25 and 26 2008.
Embedded in the podcasts are songs from "Long Live Père Ubu!, as well as dialog and electronic ambience. Sarah Jane Morris (ex-Communards, Happy End) performs the role of Mère Ubu, partnering Thomas who performs as Père Ubu. Other members of the band supply the voices of other characters.
Jarry's proto-Absurdist stage play that gave the band its name, and supplied the inspiration for the songs on "Long Live Père Ubu!," had its premiere in Paris in 1896, provoking riots in the theatre and a national scandal. A vicious and satiric re-telling of Shakespeare's "Macbeth," Jarry's work lambastes do-gooder monsters and the survival of the Unfit.
Sez Bob Holman:
The UBU radio play is sheer genius! Who is Mere? She is up to you. And Bladdergas or whatever his name is -- outrageous. But it's youyouyou all over and under, the music farts and belches along the greasy path to belchpoland... Congratz...
and i can't stop playing it over and over. Just - brilliant. I can't find superlatives enough and am intrigued and eager to hear the next episode.
Photo of three generations of Ubu synth players.
Robert Charles Alexander has published a biography of the audio pioneer Michael Gerzon called Beyond Psychoacoustics. For an outline of Gerzon's work go to this site.
From the early days...
Miriam Linna, proto-Cle fixture and early member of The Cramps, has started a blog about the early days in Cle at http://www.kicksville66.blogspot.com.
More from Charlie Dontsurf
Charlie has updated the exhaustively complete www.ubudance.com with a new section called "Documents" that posts pdf files of historical Ubu press-kits, flyers, promo postcards, etc.
Evidently, in France, citizens may commission vanity postage stamps that are good for sending letters. Charlie has commissioned a David Thomas stamp. And it works!!!!Ghoulardi
The NPR Ghoulardi program with a David Thomas interview is available as a stream or download at:
Cooking Vinyl has kindly allowed hearpen.com to offer top quality MP3 downloads of the Dub Housing 2008 remaster (see below). It will become available in November. We prefer you buy the cd but recognize there's also a demand for the download. If you are unfamiliar with the hearpen.com site be aware that not only is it the only source for a range of live recordings, it also offers the best quality audio downloads of Pere Ubu (and related) recordings. If you are in the market for an Ubu Projex-related download this should be your first stop. Not only does your money go directly to the bands involved, but you are also assured of the best quality audio reproduction possible. There is a new release monthly (usually on the first Tuesday). Downloadable artwork is offered on all releases since August and we are gradually moving all album releases possible to the site.
Dub Housing Raves
The re-mastered Cooking Vinyl reissue of Dub Housing is getting rave reviews. Cooking Vinyl released a re-mastered issue of Pere Ubu's second album on November 17 2008, the 30th anniversary of its first release. The original 2-track quarter-inch analog mix tape was baked in an oven to dry it out and re-digitized at 192hz / 24 bit resolution, the best quality resolution currently available. The detailing is significantly improved. The result was then mastered for cd audio in the control room in which it was recorded and mixed in 1978. The text "2008 Master" located on the tray card identifies the reissue.
"Three decades on, the album's default setting... remains dark, twitchy and compellingly uncompromising." David Sheppard, Mojo, January 2009.hearpen.com is the best source for MP3s of the new Dub Housing master. Nowhere on the web will you find audio quality as good.
"Fierce, strange... 30 years on, 'Dub Housing' still refuses to sit comfortably in any rock or punk canon." Rob Young, Uncut, January 2009.
"You'll need to set some time aside to get into it, but once you have, it's never the same thing twice... the more you invest in this album the more you get out of it. Massively influential to those who must have heard it back then, the dramatic sound and proud exterior have stood the test of time." Adam Adshead, Clash, January 2009 issue.
"In a 1978 dominated by the likes of Boston and a slow recovery from punk nihilism, this was just what the head doctor ordered." Tim Chester, NME, 11/15/08.
"Looking backwards to see forwards, 'Dub Housing' is a telescope into the future. And we're still not there, 30 years later." Artrocker, December 2008. Selected #1 Re-release of 2008, January 2009.
"'Dub Housing' still sounds extraordinary. It's like the Roxy Music who got rid of Ferry but kept Eno; it may not be glamorous but it's plentifully alluring." Steve Yates, The Word, Janury 2009.
Earlier this year Cooking Vinyl issued a similarly re-digitized and mastered version of The Modern Dance, Pere Ubu's first album, released in February 1978. It can be identified by the text "2005 Master" on the tray card.
Dave Robinson, drummer for 15-60-75 during the 70s and 80s, died recently.
Laura Kennedy (Bush Tetras) Benefit
Laura Kennedy, one of the old Cleveland gang, and founder member of the Bush Tetras, has undergone a liver transplant and is in need of financial assistance. There is a benefit concert for her at Nick & Eddie, 1612 Harmon Place, Minneapolis, on January 17. The Bush Tetras, Suicide Commandos and Skoal Kodiak will play. Read Laura's candid and informative blog - and make sorely-needed Paypal donations, if you are able, here. More is also available at the Bush Tetras MySpace page.
Charlie Dontsurf has updated the only extensive Ubu discography out there. It's at ubudance.com. Charlie notes:
Due to the MUP concept, some links are not working in some old pages. That's a fact. I know. The MUP (Major Update Projex) is a long work in progess. It's like recording some drum parts in a studio without electricity - you have to find a way to do what you have to do! I think there's a bigger problem for the majority of you: the site is in French. I call that "the French Fries Revenge."Charlie refers to recording drum parts without electricity. David Thomas recently finished the mix to the "original cast album" of Bring Me The Head Of Ubu Roi:
"On the last possible date in the studio before I returned to the UK I had to record some drum and percussion overdubs with Steve. A terrific storm had gone through the area the night before. I get to Suma and the electricity is out. Paul and I waited around for awhile to see if it would come back on. Around 1pm we went down the road to a Sears that was open and bought a power invertor to run off Paul's car battery. We strung extension cables down to the control room and got just enough equipment running off it to be able to record on my laptop. We had to keep an eye on the voltage meter as we powered up each unit and didn't have enough for lights. We had to finish before sunset. It was a race but we beat the clock, thanks in large part to a "heroic" performance by Steve under utterly weird conditions."Bring Me The Head Of Ubu Roi
Pere Ubu premiered its musical adaptation of the theater of Ubu Roi, Alfred Jarry's groundbreaking 1896 play and the theatrical precursor to the Absurdist, Dada and Surrealist art movements, at Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, on April 24 and 25. The adaptation, Bring Me The Head Of Ubu Roi, written by David Thomas, features 14 new songs as well as various musical "interludes." Independent film-makers The Brothers Quay devised a unique visual staging in the form of animated wide-screen projections. Sarah Jane Morris (ex-Communards, Happy End, etc) features as Mère Ubu, partnering David Thomas as Père Ubu. Gagarin adds an atmospheric soundtrack by means of electronica. Band members perform minor cast roles, as well as performing in their usual musical roles.
Click here for more information.
Mark Price, bass player from Akron band Tin Huey, died November 6 after a bout with cancer. Tin Huey, in the early 70s, was far out ahead of the rest of us and was the standard by which we all measured ourselves. An example of the inspiration that was Mark Price can be found in the spoken word Water Piece.
This from Frank Mauceri:
"Single greatest 45RPM record of all time..."
This from John Minkoff:
"Was it of interest to you when painter Dana Schutz quoted your "Meadville" stage banter (if that's the right term), naming her recent show at Zach Feuer Gallery "Stand by Earth Man" and quoting your "fortean times" soliloquy in the show's press release?"
The Director's Cut is now on release everywhere by Cooking Vinyl. Up til recently it was only available in the USA / Canada. The Director's Cut of Raygun Suitcase is still only on release in the USA / Canada.
Raygun Suitcase: http://www.ubuprojex.com/rgs.html
The Modern Dance 2005 Master
At some point in July 2008 Cooking Vinyl will be releasing the 2005 Master of The Modern Dance, replacing the 1994 Master. The catalog number remains COOK CD 141 but the new release is identifiable by the phrase "2005 Master" located below the catalog number on the back tray card. Cooking Vinyl distributes it everywhere but the USA/Canada.
Note: In April-ish 2008 a batch of defective Modern Dance cds (COOK CD 141) got past Cooking Vinyl quality control. They were recalled in June 2008. This is the last of the 1994 Master issues. If you have one of these return to the retailer for a refund.Discography Questions
This from Norway:
I work as a music writer as well as an employe in a large record store in Oslo, Norway. I wanted to let you know that I've noticed that there still seem to be a batch of the defective pressing of The Modern Dance (Cook CD 141) around, at least here in Norway. By normal procedure, my store will contact the distributer of Cooking Vinyl in Norway (Tuba Records) about the problem, but I thought you should know as well.Remember to look for the text "2005 Master" on the back inlay card near the Cooking Vinyl logo. This insures that not only do you have a good copy, it is also the latest master.
Charlie Dontsurf, webmaster of the exhaustive discography at ubudance.com, asks the following questions:
(1) Was Terminal Tower ever actually released as a cd by Rough Trade in the 80s? The booklets in the other releases mention it (Rough US 58/Rough CD 83) but we can't seem to find any evidence of an actual release.Please contact us if you have any answers.
From your responses it's clear there was a corrected vinyl release in the UK. Thank you.
Bring Me The Head Of Ubu Roi
Pere Ubu premiered its musical adaptation of the theater of Ubu Roi, Alfred Jarry's groundbreaking 1896 play and the theatrical precursor to the Absurdist, Dada and Surrealist art movements, at Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, on April 24 and 25. The adaptation, written by David Thomas, features 14 new songs as well as various musical "interludes." Independent film-makers The Brothers Quay have devised a unique visual staging in the form of animated projections. Sarah-Jane Morris (ex-Communards, Happy End, etc) features as Mere Ubu, partnering David Thomas as Pere Ubu. Gagarin adds an atmospheric soundtrack by means of electronica. Band members perform various minor roles.
Click here for more information.
Click here for background press fodder and interview questions.
Report from David Thomas:
Thursday night, opening night, was a bit of a shambles. For various reasons, it was the first time we were able to run thru the piece from beginning to end. And a number of structural and technical problems were exposed. The most disruptive problems were (1) on stage we were unable to identify fade to blacks at the end of scenes (the stage was dark to start with and a fade to black on an already dark stage, we discovered, is hard to determine. Confusion amongst on-stage cast and musicians ensued); and (2) since the play's narrative is driven by song lyrics the audience had a hard time making out what was supposed to be going on. (I have subsequently discovered that the narrative of a musical is not usually carried by song lyrics. Hey! Who's to know these things? I thought that was the deal.) In any case, I inserted brief narrative interludes between scenes for the Friday performance and this seemed to fix the principal issues. Friday went relatively smoothly though some noted that they missed the tension and chaos of Thursday's performance during which I tried to cover clunky bits by throwing "rages," which had always been the backup plan.Jim Jones
Jim Jones died of a heart attack at his home in Cleveland on Monday, February 18. He was 57. Mike DeCapite posted a tribute.
On December 11 hearpen.com went on line. It is a web site dedicated to sales of Ubu and Ubu-related downloads. It offers live recordings from across the decades, going all the way back to the Pirate's Cove days. As well there will be, from time to time, studio recordings that for one reason or another were not deemed "worthy" of a commercial release or that have become unavailable through commercial channels. A limited number of video releases will also be available. The plan is for new releases, music or video, to go online the first Tuesday of every month. We have hesitated to get involved in the download marketplace. We did not want to cede control of our productivity to others. Still, times change. The market changes. And though we do not (change) it's better that something of quality be heard than not heard, seen than not seen. We will therefore own and operate the download site ourselves ensuring editorial control and that musicians get paid. In any case there is a full-ish explanation of the aesthetic and technical issues involved. The site is run in conjunction with Smog Veil Records. They are Clevelanders.
The new shirts are in. All John Thompson designs. Two of our most popular designs - Return To The Avant Garage (black) and Modern Dance In French (white) - have been revised. The MDF shirt features the corrected French translation on the back (thanks to Charlie Dontsurf). We've also printed a trial run of a pink Why I Hate Women. Some of us are skeptical. Johnny is convinced. This is a consequence of allowing Johnny to establish pink as the official Pere Ubu color all those years ago. In any case it sports our new corporate slogan on the back: Ars longa, spectatores fugaces. (Thanks to Adrian Burns for his research.)
Pere Ubu Radio
Alexandre Horn, one of the cadre of French ultra-fans that includes Philippe Mury (Charlie Dontsurf), has posted Pere Ubu Radio on the dreaded MySpace. Though not official, it is an approved site. Mr Mury's site, BTW, ubudance.com is home to the most extensive discography available.
We have added a page summarizing the punitive taxes levied on musicians by various nation states. It is not comprehensive. Any contributions are welcome.
Why I Remix Women
Smog Veil, due to demand from distributors, has released Why I Remix Women commercially. The cd had only been previously available at concerts as a merch item.
Cage-Fest and Wheeler
Robert Wheeler recently appeared in Toronto, June 11, at the Ontario College Of Art And Design in a performance of John Cage's HPSCHD.
Comments on the MT9 Format
Yet another example that the oriental mind seems to be fundamentally incapable of grasping the nature of sound.
The bells and whistles of equalization fever reminds me of cake mix. In the 60s when Betty Crocker or whoever it was invented instant cake mix they were perplexed at first why the idea was not selling to women. They ran consumer tests and found that women weren't feeling sufficiently engaged in the "creative" process - so they changed the mix to be dependent on the "cook" adding an egg. Wham-bam - the product took off. The same paradigm lies at the root of any number of product choices - Apple vs IBM, for example. The Morris Minor is the most sophisticated car ever built - it had a GO button and a speedometer (which was placed in such a way as to minimize it's usefulness.) All the computer read-outs of the modern sexy car amount to nothing more than an egg in the mix. The same applies to consumer electronics.Fontana Reissues
It's informative to consider just what does happen in the recording studio. The array of equalization options and the racks of effects units are nearly as irrelevant as the bouncing LEDs and five band eq panels of your Japanese home hifi which is itself the product of a fearsome hierarchical methodology that seeks to achieve its aims by brutalizing sonic wave forms. Contrast that with British audio design which emphasizes speaker selection and purity of signal path. On a classic British system you get an on/off switch, a volume control and an input selector. Period. The underlying principle is quite sophisticated - "Who are YOU to screw with the sound? What makes YOU so smart?" Some years ago I remastered one of our old albums for digital reissue. It had been the first album mixed in the new Suma control room and evidently there had been teething problems involving the acoustic shape of the room that no one had been aware of and sonically there were some very weird things going on. The engineer and I got so frustrated trying to "fix" these problems with eq that we were making 15 db cuts and adding 15db peaks at random across the bandwidth just to see exactly WHAT was going on. We still couldn't alter the fundamental nature of what we were hearing. The electronics of the mixing desk had been unchanged, the recording machine was the same, the speakers were the same. What was different was the acoustic shape of the space that we had been listening in. We could make the sound hissy or boomy and we could bloat the midrange but its nature would not yield. It was locked into the spatial soundscape of a room 20 years gone.
No, Sony has alot to answer for. The history of rock music has been rewritten to accommodate corporate apologists, the copyright holders of a limited set of golden oldies, and dance hysteria. (Dance in any form is hysterical.) It's interesting to see how the makers of midi-hifi systems conspire to transform the lean sounds originally targeted for AM radio into the bloated confectionery that consumers identify as high fidelity sound. It's also interesting to consider that cd technology, as originally conceived, was designed to deliver 4 channels of quadraphonic stereo, potentially as significant a development in the spatial reproduction of Sound as the Gutenberg press was for the printed word. The past fills up with failure and lost opportunities. What triumphs is the egg in the mix.
The point is that recording engineers aren't electricians. They're architects. They shape space. Baffles, walls and rugs refine surfaces and define acoustic qualities. Amps are placed in hallways, toilets and closets, at the bottom of ravines or out in the woods. Singers stand in kitchens or at the bottom of stairs angled so as to face an acoustically compelling corner. An engineer I know spent 15 years collecting wood with the proper acoustic qualities. Even electronic effects, reverb and echo units, are designed to imitate space and supply presets that ape the characteristics of various sized and shaped rooms. Massively expensive boxes of electronics are valued for the ability to create nothing more than virtual spaces.
None of these essential qualities of sound can be enhanced with equalization. They can. however, be tarted up to resemble a hooker's notion of couture. And in the end who do you want designing your house? An architect or Joe Blow in the downstairs flat with his "Now That's Architecture 68" cd?
The four Fontana Years albums, The Tenement Year, Cloudland, Worlds In Collision, and Story Of My Life, have reissued as individual cds by Mercury Records, April 16 2007. The changes are:
The Tenement Year
The original 1988 Fontana release does not seem to have been mastered. David Thomas and Paul Hamann mastered it January 22-23 2007 at Suma. An alternate mix of Dream The Moon was substituted in the running order and five extras were added: the UK b-sides Postman Drove A Caddy and The B-Side, live in the studio recordings of Miss You and We Have The Technology for the John Peel Show (never previously released), and an alternate mix of The Hollow Earth (never previously released). As well, the sound of thunder that was found on the original Suma mix of the tracks was added - there was clearly some intention of including this somewhere for some reason. The packaging has been updated by John Thompson and added are extensive liner notes specific to the album by David Stubbs.
The album was originally mixed by Paul Hamann at Paisley Park Studios, Minneapolis MN. Subsequently four tracks were re-recorded in London and the others remixed for the 1989 Fontana release. This reissue substitutes in the running order the following Paisley Park mixes by Paul Hamann: Monday Night, Lost Nation Road, Nevada!, The Wire, The Waltz, and Pushin. Five extras have been added: the UK b-sides Wine Dark Sparks and Bang The Drum, the Paisley Park mix of Breath (never previously released), Bus Called Happiness recorded live in the studio for the John Peel Show (never previously released), and a dance remix of Love Love Love. The packaging has been updated by John Thompson and added are extensive liner notes specific to the album by David Stubbs.
Worlds In Collision
Four extras have been added, the UK b-sides Around The Fire, Down By The River, Like A Rolling Stone, and Invisible Man. These were demos recorded for what the band refers to as The Lost Album. The packaging has been updated by John Thompson and added are extensive liner notes specific to the album by David Stubbs.
Story Of My Life
Five extras have been added: an alternate mix of Come Home by Stephen Hague (never previously released), the UK b-side Fedora Satellite, and three b-sides recorded for Story Of My Life but never released - Gripless, Through The Windshield and Stoughton 529. The packaging has been updated by John Thompson and added are extensive liner notes specific to the album by David Stubbs.
Modern Dance in Surround Sound release RELEASED.
Somewhat delayed, the 5.1 surround-sound disk of THE MODERN DANCE was released July 31 2006 in England and Europe on Silverline (catalog 284402-2). It is unlikely at this point to have a US release. (Amazon is selling it as an import for $27.99.) Glitterhouse is also selling it.
The format is DualDisc. We do not have a copy of the production release at this point. One side of the DualDisc is a DVD featuring a 5.1 surround sound remix of the entire album, a 30 minute interview with David Thomas, as well as a new mastering of the original stereo album mix at DVD audio quality (96khz/24 bit). The other side of the disk is a cd audio format of the new mastering of the original stereo album (44khz/16 bit) playable on standard audio cd players.
David Thomas, who attended the remix session by Chris Haynes, reports: "This is the way we heard The Modern Dance in the studio... no, it's better than that, it's the way we heard it when we were playing it. The detailing is fantastic. The space reveals everything while still retaining the album's intensity and original intention. And the best thing is, if you want to hear something louder or quieter you just move your head a foot. Everything is there!"
Michael Frantz reports:
"As a long time Ubu fan, I was very surprised when my wife brought home a box of Erewhon cereal. Note the spelling is exactly the same as your CD title: 'Nowhere' backwards with the W and H transposed. Coincidence?"Unknown Instructors
Response: "We suspect they simply named their cereal after the same Samuel Butler novel we got the name from... though of course it'd be nice to think otherwise."
David Thomas sings 3 songs on Dan McGuire's Unknown Instructors album ("Master's Voice," Smog Veil SV66, released March 2007). In the band are Mike Watt, Joe Baiza and George Hurley. The David Thomas songs are: This Black Hat is Rage, Tar Baby & the Rising Sun, and Doghouse Riley.
Tracks from the following releases are available from eMusic: Jimmy Bell (search for The Numbers Band), Folly of Youth Seedee+, Beach Boys Seedee+, One Man Drives..., and Shape of Things. Available via iTunes are The Day The Earth Met The Rocket From The Tombs, Rocket Redux and 18 Monkeys on a Dead Man's Chest, as well as most of the Ubu albums.
Ubu Tour Dates
Experimentations: Robert Wheeler will not do the April 2007 European dates. He is still a full and functioning member of the band - have no fear - but he will be replaced on synth duties by Dids of Gagarin, long-time Ubu and 2pbs soundman. Robert will return for the 2nd leg of European dates in May. Andy Diagram will join Dids and Ubu for the London show.
The Harry Smith Project
Ubu on French TV
The Shape of Things To Come
Pirates & Drunken Sailors
Sea shanteys are a form/idiom we have visited over the decades, the most obvious example being "Caligari's Mirror," which is actually based on "Drunken Sailor." When you want a metaphor for the condition of humanity you can't do better than reference drunken sailors, mad ship captains, etc. It certainly worked for Herman Melville!
I didn't set out to do radical, simply to properly interpret the song, not as a museum piece but as contemporary folk music. And, uh, drunkards don't sing that I've ever noticed in neat musical syntax. Not down at my local anyway...
Dan Dan was easy, dictated by the lyric-- hard fast punk. Get in, hit hard and get out before anybody notices the mess. Mayhem R Us.
I actually haven't heard mixes of my tracks yet, never mind the album. I've worked with Hal on 4-5 projects over the last few years (Harry Smith, Firesign Theater, Nino Rota/Fellini) and when he calls I first say Yes and then ask what the project is. It was a great evening in the studio. Norma Waterson, Martin Carthy, Eliza Carthy, Ralph Steadman, Ed Harcourt, Keith Moline (Pere Ubu), among others, were there and everybody was vibing on the chaos and spontaneity which is the modus operandi of a Willner session. Real seat of the pants stuff, playing with the best people. Dan Dan was the 2nd run thru. Drunken Sailor was the 1st or 3rd, I can't remember. It takes a special kind of musician to be able to deliver the goods that way and Hal knows all their phone numbers.
On the subject of YouTube
WIHW in GERMAN LANGUAGE
Reactions to advance copies of WHY I HATE WOMEN, the new Pere Ubu album:
Neal, the Ubu accountant reports:
Charliedontsurf (webmaster at Ubudance.com) says,
Zouba, moderator at Pere Ubu Foundation, says,
Robert Wheeler reports,
Pere Ubu On The Air
Saturday November 18th at 7 p.m CST on Chicago Public Radio. WBEZ 91.5 FM Chicago or www.chicagopublicradio.org
Saturday November 18th at 9 a.m. CST on The Current 89.3 FM, 88.7 FM Minneapolis
Sunday November 19th at 5 p.m. EST on WFUV 90.7 FM New York City
Wednesday November 22nd at 4pm AST on KIAL 1450 AM, Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska
The podcast will be available at SoundOpinions.org the Monday after it airs.
Pere Ubu Tour Dates
British dates are at this point limited to Brighton & London. Special guest at the London show will be Stan Ridgway. See Calendar Page for state of play. More dates are hoped for in early 2007.
The first USA date will be a special all-Ubu double bill at UCLA's Royce Hall in Los Angeles on Oct 29. The first set will be a live underscore performance of X, The Man With X-Ray Eyes followed by a concert set. All other dates at this point will be concert sets. Dates in San Francisco, Chicago and New York City are now confirmed. Old friends The Bush Tetras (the ORIGINAL Nerve Gas Dancers) will be special guests in New York City. Two or three more confirmations are expected soon for the end of November. See Calendar Page for state of play. A second tour is hoped for early 2007.
David Thomas and Rodolphe Burger.
Director's Cut releases of RGS & PA
"The point of doing a Director's Cut is to benefit from that older and wiser thing," David Thomas explains. "We reviewed all alternate mixes from the session, sometimes discovering that an earlier mix turned out to be superior to the chosen mix. As well, 10 years later, we have access to improved mastering technology. Consequently, there is a greater clarity and cohesion to the Director's Cuts."
Reaction from the Pere Ubu Foundation newsgroup (Mr Eyesbleed): "I thought I'd get RGS first, since that's my personal fave Ubu. I've only played it thru 3 times so far, but wow..... big improvement! The overall sound is hotter & crispier & crunchier. And the extremely wacky guitar playing is more out front.... along with all the bleeps & blurps. I noticed more abrasive guitar & general wackiness than before.... MAJOR plus for me! All the guitar stuff is more out front.... I guess I never paid that much attention to it before, but RGS is the perfect mix of avant-guitar & surf-guitar..... & the directors cut seems to make it all sound that much better. So....I say HIGHLY recommended. Now I must get Penn."
Mr Gustav121 reports of the Amazon site, "You'll find the "Director's Cut" versions on the second page (of three) of listings. The originals are listed on the first page."
Charlie Dontsurf reports in:
New Pere Ubu Album
Cloudland on Demand
I was on Holidays in Wales and found in a second hand record shop a "strange" Cloudland re-release (2004) by Universal via a Made-on-Demand service! It's a cd-r with poor artwork (no booklet) with some info on the cd (in fact: a html file with the poor artwork...)
Phillipe goes on to note that though the disk sounded like a good quality reproduction there were pops and clicks on some tracks. It is the only Pere Ubu album on offer and it is the only known (seemingly) legal outlet for those wanting a copy of the record.
Review of Pere Ubu live from the September UK tour.
More MOJO madness
30 Seconds Over Tokyo, Beach Boys, Birdies, Breath, Bus Called Happiness, Busman's Honeymoon, Caligari's Mirror, Chinese Radiation, Codex, Come Home, Dark, Dub Housing, Fabulous Sequel, Final Solution, Folly Of Youth, George Had A Hat, Go, Goodbye, Heart of Darkness, Heaven, Humor Me, I Will Wait, Laughing, Misery Goats, Modern Dance, My Dark Ages, Navvy, Nonalignment Pact, Oh Catherine, On The Surface, SAD.TXT, Slow Walking Daddy, Small Was Fast, Street Waves, Ubu Dance Party, Waiting for Mary, Wasted, We Have The Technology, Woolie Bullie, and Worlds In Collision.
That's 40 songs - not 35 - because the difference in counts was negligible for many of the songs. Many respondents pleaded passionately that this song or that song simply had to be included and inevitably these were not top vote getters - Postcard probably featured most often in that category. A total of 167 songs received votes. Every album is represented except for Song of the Bailing Man. It's top vote getter was Big Ed's Used Farms.
In the bubbling under category are: Big Ed's Used Farms, Cloud 149, Fevered Dream of Hernando deSoto, Goodnite Irene, Kathleen, Kingdom Come, Life Stinks, Smoke The BBQ, Vacuum In My Head, and Winter In The Firelands.
Pere Ubu at CBGB's
"Pere Ubu have created a sympathetic and subtle soundtrack which works with the film rather than stamping their distinctive mark on it." -- Lilly Peel, The Argus, 11/13/04.
"They turned a B-movie into a series of menacing peaks and troughs and the overall art experiment was very much a success." -- The Scotsman, 11/10/04.
"Ubu's driving industrial rhythm are pulled back into moody atmospherics and primitive electronic squiggles." -- The Herald, 11/10/04.
David Thomas, Monster
The re-packaging will make it easier to keep the box in stock by reducing the complexity and stock costs of the previous fabrication. The Meadville disk was dropped because (1) the 5-cd multiway jewel case is flimsy and unpleasing, and (2) Meadville was always meant to be a bonus disk. (In answer to the inevitable complaints-- you had 7 years to buy it...!)
Meadville will be re-released in some way at some point in the near future. Ubutique has a few of the original Monster boxes (with Meadville) left.
The Variations On A Theme disk has been reconfigured, partially in response to some fan requests. Some of the original 1983 mixes have been included and the remixes have been re-mastered.
The UK release of the Monster reissue was Nov 1 2004, the US release was Nov 11.
Wait For It
"I Quit!" Shock
"I will no longer tolerate the injustice whereby should you create music you are hounded and penalized by racist do-gooders," Mr Thomas said. "Whereas if you simply suck on the teat of the musical welfare state, i.e. if you DJ, you are not. Henceforth I shall suck the teat of the musical welfare state. I have become a DJ."
German, Dutch, Spanish, Japanese and Belgian Surcharge
The Rose & The Briar
The books is 320 pages with contributions from R. Crumb, Dave marsh, Joyce Carol Oates, Jon Langford, John Rockwell, and others. A companion cd will be released by Columbia.
BBC Album of the Week
18 Monkeys, etc.
One Man Drives, etc.
Rocket Redux 2
The genesis is as follows. Following the hugely successful June tour we decided to undertake a tour out west to complete a circuit of the country. In order to satisfy a stream of requests after every show, we decided to record the current set of material with the new band and sell it as a concert merchandise only item. Richard Lloyd engineered, produced and mixed the new recordings at his studio over a couple lost weekends. Along the way we got excited about the outcome and decided to release it commercially.
Clearly, credibility is stretched now on the official line that this is not a reunion. Nevertheless, it continues to be the case. Here are the unadulterated facts: (1) We really like playing these songs with each other-- it is satisfying; (2) The mix of personalities is about as stable as nitroglycerine; (3) We actually like each other as people and enjoy each other's company so the 8 flaming rows that erupt each day we are together in the same place at the same time are quickly forgiven; (4) It will not be a "real" band until we start writing new material; (5) This group of people may not be able to write new material together; (6) If we can't write new material of proper quality and nature we don't want to feel like we're stuck together-- we simply part our ways and say to each other, "It's been fun."
Describing the recent shows, David Fricke, editor of Rolling Stone, wrote, "No on else in American rock, underground or over, in 1974 and '75, was writing and playing songs this hard and graphic about being f**ked over and fighting mad. No one else is doing it now."
Greg Kot in the Chicago Tribune wrote, "Rocket From the Tombs is not just the great lost proto-punk band of the '70s. It's one of the best bands of the 21st Century too."
MC5 & Sun Ra Arkestra
Gary Lupico passes away
Rules: (1) Only 35 songs; (2) Only songs performed by Pere Ubu; (3) No covers. Please write in the "Subject:" line of your email the phrase "Greatest Hits Project".
We hope to license individual Fontana-era tracks so these should be included in your calculations. We are getting a number of suggestions for formats, etc. These are appreciated and we are considering all possibilities.
Slow Walking Daddy
ICFOS at The Ocean, Hackney
Bowery Poetry Club
It Came From Outer Space
"1950s cold war paranoia with the dark vision of Pere Ubu" -- The Guardian
"The audience placed its red and green 3D spex upon its collective nose, and ducked and dived as shards of rock and laser beams poured out of the screen. David Thomas, old daddy Ubu himself, added some witty touches to the dialogue. This live band/3D movie thing could catch on." -- The Evening Standard
"Pere Ubu have raised the standard for live soundtracks." -- Glenn Max, Musical Director Contemporary Culture, The South Bank, London.
New web site
"An unbelievable evening of song, laughter, shouting and fear" -- Dag Bladet (Oslo).
For the London show Ubudoll will be joined on stage by long-time Jackie Leven sideman, Breton multi-instrumentalist Michael Cosgrave, adding keyboards and trumpet to their voices, guitar and melodeon. The material will be drawn from many points in their respective recording careers, and also from the Cooking Vinyl recording collaborations between the two men over the past 6 years: expect to hear (amongst others) Jackie singing 'Morbid Sky' from David's avant garage musical MIRROR MAN, and David perform the Rainer Maria Rilke prose poem 'Faces' from SHINING BROTHER SHINING SISTER, last year's studio album from Jackie.
"I felt a shudder of disappointment, and then I chided myself for various presumptions. Then I determined to write to you and find out what's up with you letting your work be used in ads."
Thank you for your concern. I have to say I have a different take on the whole issue. Wasted appears very prominently in a 1994 Hollywood movie called SLEEP WITH ME. No one has ever voiced concerns about its use. The American corporation is held to a higher standard of accountability than the Hollywood producer and is more trustworthy. I am not claiming either to be paragons of virtue. I simply point out the relative standing of the two. We like selling things. We like the marketplace and we consider it a healthier environment than the realm, for example, of state-subsidized art. I really can't get excited about the track being used for a commercial. In any case, we don't own the copyright to that album.
Another fan weighs in: "If McDonald's were to give a free copy of Doc at the Radar Station with every Happy Meal, the fact that it's a great record wouldn't change."
And another: The juxtaposition of "Throwing time away..." and an advertisement telling me to "Get a new job" blooms very nicely, i.e., not always in the way Monster.com intends.
And another: It's true that if McDonald's gave away a free copy of Doc at the Radar Station with every Happy Meal, it wouldn't change the fact that it's a great record; it also wouldn't change the fact that it's a great product. I don't distinguish between Virgin Records and McDonalds; they would both be doing the same thing with that album. Similarly, the fact that Wasted is used in an advert makes no difference to its intrinsic value.
Benefit for Jim Jones
We have had a number of requests to contribute to the benefit. There is a form to give by PayPal at the Suburban Home of Ubu Projex.
The New Salem Witch Hunters are re-uniting for the night to open the show
A St Arkansas Resources page summarizes the important links.
Read the incoming comments from our consumer family.
The Mighty Road Tour begins in the midwest in September. A west coast tour will be booked early in 2003. No European dates are on the horizon yet. The tour t-shirt designs can be found at Ubutique.
David Thomas and the foreigners
St Arkansas Centerfold
"Ken Hamann, the Suma Recording Studio owner and engineer who died Friday, engineered some of the biggest rock 'n' roll hits to come out of Cleveland in the 1960s and '70s, from The Outsiders' "Time Won't Let Me," recorded in 1965, to Wild Cherry's "Play That Funky Music" in 1976. During his years with Cleveland Recording Co., he worked on the Lemon Pipers' gold single, "Green Tambourine," and the Human Beinz' hit, "Nobody But Me," both of which rocked the Billboard charts in 1968. Hamann also played a key role in engineering Grand Funk Railroad's first seven albums.
Rocket From The Tombs
And exactly why is it that you don't...
The Mighty Road Tour West
There will be two shows in Seattle-- a concert of songs at the Crocodile Club and the other a live soundtrack performance to a 3-D screening of It Came From Outer Space.
The Mirror Man cast is David Thomas, Frank Black, Robert Kidney, Syd Straw, Bob Holman, Van Dyke Parks, Keith Moliné, Andy Diagram, Georgia Hubley, George Wendt and Jack Kidney.
Rocket From The Tombs is David Thomas, Cheetah Chrome, Craig Bell, Richard Lloyd & Steve Mehlman.
Complete Disastodrome Information, of interest to journalists especially, is available as an Adobe Acrobat PDF file.
Surf's Up In Bay City
Mind Your Head
What, No Solution?
Wilson Shute Bridge
Mirror Man pix
West End Boys
The Guardian (4/13/02) gave it 5 out of 5 stars.
"Imagine an early-19th-century toy playhouse with fantasy figures dreamt up by a Victorian David Lynch. Other influences might include The Goon Show, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Monty Python, Goethe's Faust, Freud on obsessional neurosis and early Chaplin movies. I think that should cover everything and reassure the serious-minded that they can have a wonderful time with an untroubled conscience. A brilliantly funny evening." -- John Peter, The Sunday Times, 4/28/2.
"Thomas' voice defied convention, rumbling and swooping as trumpeter Andy Diagram and guitarist Keith Moliné employ a series of effects to warp and enhance each melody... He [Thomas] is a huge presence, dominating the toy box set and contrasting comically with wiry Julian Bleach, with whom Thomas appears to be curiously furious throughout. There are some terrifyingly volatile moments, particularly during Johnny Head-In-Air when it seems Thomas will actually attack Bleach. This crackling tension, Thomas' dark intonations and the Two Pale Boys' creepy creaks and chords render the show far scarier than in previous productions." -- Maddy Costa, Time Out, 4/17/2.
Harry Smith Project
Just in from Daved Hild!! The verdict we've been waiting for!!
A FAQ page for Surf's Up! has been added with some interesting insights into the recording of the album.
Surf's Up!, the new album from David Thomas and two pale boys, is scheduled for release Feb 20 2001 on Thirsty Ear (USA), Glitterhouse (Europe) and Bomba (Japan). The Glitterhouse UK release will be March 5. The song titles are: Runaway, Man In The Dark, Night Driving, Surf's Up, River, Ghosts, Spider In My Stew & Come Home / Green River.
Glitterhouse takes over Jimmy Bell
DT on TV
UBUDOLL on the web
Royal Festival Hall
End of tour clearance
Therefore, until July 1 2001 and for those in the UK ONLY the following titles are offered at clearance prices while supplies last:
Mirror Man Dates Announced for UK!
The Kidney Brothers (Robert & Jack Kidney of 15-60-75) play The 12-Bar Club in London, Saturday, May 19th, 10pm. The address is 22-23 Denmark Place (near Leicester Square). The phone is 020 7916-6989. Highly recommended.
Moers Jazz Festival
Rough Trade Days
30 Seconds Over Tokyo is included in the box set "25 Years of Rough Trade Shops" (Mute CDSTUMM 191).
Sisters of Mercy
2pbs on Mixing It
End of tour overstock DEALS!
David Thomas writes:
Steve Mehlman reports:
Kindness Of Strangers Update
David Thomas and two pale boys return to the best & oddest venue in England-- The Shed, Brawby, N. Yorks-- on Saturday, November 11, which is Bowl Day meaning something about feeding all who come... or something. Brawby being a no horse town in the middle of Utter Nowhere this is seen as a Good Thing food-wise.27-Oct-00
Pere Ubu go home
Ubu appear in Lisbon for the first time Sep 26 at Aula Magna.
Wayne Kramer (formerly of the MC5 and Pere Ubu), and his band, join Pere Ubu and 15-60-75 at the Royal Festival Hall, South Bank, London, on Wednesday, Sep 27, for 55 Years of Pain. Wayne will undoubtedly stand in with Pere Ubu on the songs he remembers from his (brief) stint in the group. 15-60-75 is the grand-daddy of the Cleveland scene. They changed the lives of everyone who's seen them. Do not miss this opportunity. Robert Kidney and his brother Jack appeared at Disastodrome a couple years ago. Now they bring their entire band.
As well, David Thomas broadcasts late nite radio to no one at all across a lost continent in the premiere of his one man show, "Surf's up in Bay City" at Beyond Baroque in Los Angeles on Oct 6. "Based on stories found, or not, in his acclaimed opera, Mirror Man, Thomas evokes surreal, sensual and visceral visions of the troubled space between memory and reality."9-Sep-00
Audio stream "Black Coffee Dawn" at Terra Soundtralis Incognita.4-Aug-00
Kindness Of Strangers
As much as we'd like to simply walk away from the situation we can't. Because of the way the system works, effectively, we cannot reissue Raygun Suitcase, EREWHON, Monster or Pennsylvania in the US until Mr Lindsay issues a notice of deletion. It is an absurdity yet there it is. Consequently we look to call once more on the kindness of strangers. If you are an attorney based in Oregon, or if you know of one who would be interested in helping us, please contact Nick Hobbs, email@example.com or +44-020-7274-661812-Jun-00
Jimmy Bell's Still In Town by 15-60-75 is available on cd for the first time. Recorded in May 1975 and unavailable for decades, Reedurban Records is producing handmade copies. Note that this is the only good album ever recorded by anyone. The rest of us have just been putting in our time on the planet.
David's comments from the booklet:
"The new vinyl pressing of "Dub Housing" on Get Back Records sounds great! The source tape for this pressing is the remastered version that was used for the CD reissue on Thirsty Ear. As an added bonus the sleeve is gatefold and the inside photo is the same skyline shot used in the CD reissue only a heck of alot bigger. Looks very impressive in 12" x 24". The outer sleeve remains visually unchanged from the original."
A theatrical production of both acts of Mirror Man has been booked for the Victoriaville Festival, May 21 2000, in Victoriaville, Quebec. Appearing are David Thomas, Linda Thompson, Bob Holman, Andy Diagram, Robert Kidney, Jack Kidney, Chris Cutler and Keith Moliné. Scenic & lighting design: Danny Grace. Sound: Paul Hamann.
Pere Ubu have recorded a track called "Wasteland" for a compilation that Wayne Kramer is producing.24-Apr-00
Ubu Projex has signed a non-exclusive deal with ATRecordings allowing them to market certain releases on the internet. The first such release will be Bay City by David Thomas and foreigners. A credit card facility for mail order sales of cd releases, free streaming and the sales of individual MP3 files will be provided. In time we hope to make the entire Ubu catalog available and to distribute internet only releases of a number of hitherto unreleased live albums. All such internet releases will be available as mail order cds and MP3 files. When the page is up we'll email details.4-Apr-00
We have finally responded to questions about the vinyl pressings of The Modern Dance. The Bug Report, "1975-2000: 25 years of error... & bravely beyond!", has been updated with our Notes on Vinyl Pressings.28-Mar-00
Christopher Bryant is advertizing Pere Ubu in his Autumn 2000 Inertia Tour lineup in spite of repeated statements from us that we were not interested in appearing. No, we are not appearing on the bill.25-Mar-00
David Thomas duets with Jackie Leven twice on Jackie's new cd, DEFENDING ANCIENT SPRINGS (Cooking Vinyl CookCD 191). One of the songs is "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling."
Peter Murphy's version of Final Solution appears on his best of compilation, Wild Birds, on Beggars Banquet.